Tuesday, 14 February 2017

My folks are in town

My parents had their first trip to Asia last week - Vietnam for 10 days followed by their long awaited visit to Singapore. Their Vietnam leg was all organised for them through an agent so they had requested I do the same for them for Singapore. Challenge accepted. Here's what we got up to:

Day 1: Dinner along the promenade, MBS Light Show, Garden Rhapsody. 

Garden Rhapsody
Garden Rhapsody

Day 2:
Gardens by the Bay, cocktails at Bar Stories on Haji Lane, dinner at Level 33


Gardens by the Bay
Gardens by the Bay

Gardens by the Bay

Cocktails
Bar Stories

Level 33
Blowing away 33 floors up...

Level 33

Day 3: National Museum of Singapore, cocktails at Raffles, more cocktails at the National Gallery's Smoke and Mirrors bar, dinner along Clarke Quay

Singapore Slings at Raffles
Singapore Slings at Raffles

Smoke and Mirrors
View from Smoke and Mirrors

Day 4: Brunch at Jones' the Grocer and shopping on Dempsey hill, lunch and Buddha Tooth Relic Temple in China town, Botanic Gardens

Buddha Tooth Relic Temple
Buddha Tooth Relic Temple

Botanic Gardens
Botanic Gardens or La La Land?

Day 5: Mani/pedi followed by Afternoon Tea at The Fullerton Bay's Landing Point


It was a really sad farewell as I won't now see them for another 10 months. However, it was great to show them my life here and I'm so happy I now have Singapore experiences and memories with them <3

Wednesday, 1 February 2017

Diving with Thresher Sharks in the Phillipines

As it was Chinese New Year, Singapore gave everyone a long weekend which Phil and I used to head over to to Malapascua Island, just north of Cebu in the Philippines.

We caught the 8pm flight landing in Cebu at 1am... we then had a 3 hour drive up to Maya port, a 45 minute boat ride to Malapascua Island, then finally a half hour walk to our resort just as the sun was rising over the island.


Sunrise in Malapascua
Sunrise in Malapascua

Although it was a long way to travel, it was well worth it. I liked the Spanish vibe and it's off the beaten track making it far less touristy than other places I've gone to like Bali or Thailand.  

We did four dives over the two days we were there - two of which were pretty incredible. (We dived with Evolution Divers who I would highly recommend)


Diving Malapascua Island


1. The Monad Shoal. We were up and in the water at the crack of dawn to watch majestic Thresher Sharks enjoy their morning cleaning session. Apparently the sharks go to the Monad Shoal almost every morning to wait for the cleaner fish to nibble all their parasites and dead skin away. Thrshers are pretty rare so I feel pretty lucky to have got the chance to see them in their natural habitat.

Here's a photo of a Thresher Shark... unfortunately I didn't get any good underwater shots of the real thing so this is a carrot version. Basically the same thing.


Thresher Shark
Thresher Shark

2. Gato Island.  We left the bright sunshine to swim down into the Gato caves where it was completely black except for the small circle of our torch lights. The best bit was moving my torch to find it land upon two 5ft white tipped reef sharks right in front of us. We also watched, mesmerised, as a huge shoal of mackerel glimmered in the sunlight like silver. I have a video, but it really doesn't do it justice:



video


After the dives, we wandered around the island where we saw whole rows of washed up damaged boats and rubbish from where Typhoon Yolanda had left her mark. There were lots of men building new boats and renewing old ones as their children flew their kites along the beach. 


Malapascua Island


Eventually we found our way to an idyllic bar where we spent the evening watching the sunset and drinking cocktails. 


Malapascua Island





To anyone interested in diving, I would recommend visiting Malapascua. It was a good little getaway, but with the travel time we could have definitely done with another night on the island!

Friday, 20 January 2017

Millennnial?

The other day I was listening to an interview about millenials with Simon Sinek and it really got me thinking about how many weeks I must have spent glued to my phone, my laptop or the TV when there is so much more I could be doing.

It isn't really a new years resolution, but I'm now trying to come home after work and play the piano, swim or paint rather than lying back and scrolling through various news feeds on my phone, looking at other people's lives or wondering how many likes I might have gotten.

One of my Christmas gifts this year was a painting set, so I've been trying it out and am quite proud of my recent attempts:

Lion, acrylic

Buddha, acrylic

I'm also exercising again and Phil and I have been trying out another one of our Christmas presents in the pool...


Fins
Fintastic

It's been great coming home and achieving something instead of looking at a screen. It probably helps that I'm doing dry January as well, so there's no temptation to go out and guzzle cocktails.

The next few months are going to be a but nuts - we have decided to stay in Singapore for at least one more year so Phil is on the look out for a new job and we are also starting to think about finding a new place to live.

I love this flat and will be really sad to leave, but if I stop for a minute and think about it - we've been so bloody lucky to have lived in this place at all!

Monday, 16 January 2017

Blink and you miss it

With all the excitement of Christmas, I realised it's been ages since my last post.

It was so good to get home and catch up with friends and family.. and of course my gorgeous dog! Early morning walks on the common in the dark with woolly hats and wellies. Cosy nights in with friends, wine and cheese. Pub lunches, ice skating, board games and port.


Christmas walksMy love


Polaroid pals
Polaroid pals

It was all too quick though. And before I knew it, Phil and I were on a plane and back in Singapore.

Thankfully we've had a relatively chilled start back at work and a couple of visitors from the UK passing through to see us which has eased any blues we might have had.



My friend was in town for just a few days, so we planned a weekend soaking up the culture and getting active. (This is the guy who ran 32 marathons in 36 days last year!! Don't even..)

On Friday night we headed over to Art After Dark at Gillman Barracks for some art, music and food. I'm not really into contemporary art, but the live music and set-up they have for their evening open house is pretty cool, so definitely worthwhile checking out.

Gillman Barracks
Art After Dark

As it's Chinese New Year coming up, China Town is buzzing with activity at the moment. The annual international Lion Dance competition took place on Saturday so after an afternoon of dragon boating, we bought our $10 ticket and headed over to see what it was all about.

Not having done any research beforehand, I didn't really know what I was expecting - but it certainly wasn't two acrobats in a lion costume carrying out jaw-dropping manoeuvres and jumps between small raised platforms! Tak a look at the video:


Our final day with my friend saw us pack a picnic and walk the Southern Ridges trail. Starting at Mount Faber, walking over the Henderson Waves, along the Canopy Walk and over to Hortpark. It was a bit of a novelty finding a decent hill in Singapore so I'd recommend it to others who want to get away from the bustle of the city on a weekend. 

I didn't take photos of the walk, but did manage to get a shot of the Bell of Happiness at the top of Mount Faber!


Bell of Happiness
The Bell of Happiness

It's always so nice having friends over and I love that everyone who has visited so far has fallen in love with Singapore just as I have. My folks are going to be in Singapore in just a few weeks an I can't wait!

Wednesday, 21 December 2016

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas

Over the last few weeks I've had my team & work Christmas party, the Gaelic Dragons Christmas party & paddle and Phil and I also had our own little Christmas party at our flat. We also found the time to head over the Palau Ubin where we spent a day cycling around and singing Christmas carols with friends and an evening at Christmas Wonderland at Gardens by the Bay.

After all of this, it's safe to say that I am well and truly in the Christmas spirit and counting down the days until I'm back in the UK with my family and friends! 

Christmas Dragons
Sober Christmas Dragons

Christmas Dragons
Drunk Christmas Dragons

Palau Ubin
Pedaling around Palau 

Palau Ubin






Christmas
Oh the weather outside is frightful
(lol jk its 32 degrees)


Christmas
Can you tell we're excited?

Christmas Dinner

Christmas


Dragon boating
Festive paddling

Dragon boating



Christmas Wonderland
Christmas Wonderland
Christmas Wonderland


Snow in Singapore
Snow in Singapore

It's going to be a great Christmas this year, I can tell !

Monday, 28 November 2016

Big Kids

Last weekend dragon boating was cancelled because - believe it or not - a crocodile was spotted in the Kallang! As a result, Phil and I spent Saturday watching the new Moana Disney movie at the cinema and trying out all the rides at Universal Studios. Phil's company has hired use of Universal for the evening which meant pretty much no queuing - #winning!

We continued in the same vain on Sunday, hanging out with some pals at LegoLand Malaysia, just one hours drive north over the border of Singapore. Considering most of the rides were aimed at toddlers we still managed to have an amazing time. I won a big cuddly panda, Phil got his face painted and we all screamed our voices hoarse on the rides. The only warning for any other Singapore residents would be to avoid driving back down on Sunday evening. It took us about 4 hours, 3 of which were sat, stationary in traffic. 

LegoLand

LegoLand
This year's Xmas card!


Since my last post, I've bought two new purchases which I'm really excited about...

The first is a Gear VR - the new virtual reality headset from Samsung. I can be under the water swimming with sharks, flying in a fighter jet hundreds of meters up, on stage watching the Lion King with Rafiki, or in a haunted house being chased by zombie children. It's awesome. I took it into work last week and suddenly became the coolest kid at school!

Gear VR


The other new purchase is even better. Phil and I went to the 'IN Art' exhibition at the Australian High Commission as some of the student's art at my school was being exhibited. Just one look at the mandala piece and I knew I had to have it. Take a look:

Mandala


What makes it even better is that this is the first sale the artist has ever made, and I'm so happy that she's one of the students at school. I can't wait to take it home and display it on our wall!

-----------------------------------------------

As per, Phil and I have also tried a few new places to fill our bellies so here's a mini review...

  • White Rabbit, Dempsey - beautiful chapel venue, good food but a tad overpriced.
  • The Lighthouse, The Fullerton Hotel - a lovely little roof terrace overlooking the bay. We only stayed for a drink but will be back for sure.
  • Original Sin, Holland Village - vegetarian, Mediterranean menu. Absolutely delicious! 

Sunday, 13 November 2016

My friends are here! Part 2.

Q: What is there to do in Singapore when you have a couple of friends visiting?
A: SO MUCH

As I've been so busy with work I'd neglected to plan activities or outings with my friends when they came to visit. If we were in London I'm sure this would have proved to be a bit of a disaster, but in Singapore - no fear - there is always heaps to do.

If anyone reading this post is expecting visitors and needs a few ideas, please feel free to steal/replicate as we had an awesome few days.

Day 1


Marina Bay

Marina Bay Sands Light Show
Marina Bay Sands Light Show
Garden Rhapsody
Garden Rhapsody



















Day 2


1 Altitude
1 Altitude

















Day 3

  • Sentosa Island - MegaZip, beaches and lunch at Tanjong Beach Club
  • Dinner at Club 55, all-you-can-eat cheese and chocolate buffet

Club 55

Day 4


Day 5


Xcape room

Super Loco

There's so much more to do and they've already promised to come back next year. I'm thrilled they loved Singapore as much as I do.